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Rep. Todd Prichard: “Public school funding falls short”

Prichard

The following is a legislative update from Democratic State Rep. Todd Prichard of Charles City, representing portions of Cerro Gordo, Floyd and Chickasaw counties in Iowa House District 52:

On Thursday, the Iowa House voted on funding public schools for next year.

After listening to local school districts and teachers, Democratic lawmakers proposed an additional investment of $300 million next school year to make sure every kid gets a quality education. The $300 million investment equates to the exact amount offered to corporations by Governor Reynolds in her recent tax cut plan.

On a straight party-line vote, Majority Party lawmakers ignored their schools’ local needs and adopted a state funding level at about half of what Democrats proposed. Many parents and educators have expressed growing concern that the smaller funding level is insufficient in keeping up with rising costs in public schools or with keeping teachers in the classroom.

Over the last decade, state funding for public schools has been at historical lows and 134 schools have closed. Iowa currently ranks 39th out of 50 in state per student funding and is $1,280 below the national average.

Public schools have been at the center of discussions this legislative session, with the President of the Senate claiming on day one that Iowa teachers are following a “sinister agenda.” Several bills have since been introduced that put teachers in jail, ban books, and put cameras in every classroom.

These lawmakers are also working on a voucher bill that will shift money from public schools to private schools.

The bill now goes to the Iowa Senate.


Cutting Unemployment Benefits Doesn’t Solve Workforce Crisis

Last spring, Governor Reynolds abruptly ended federal unemployment benefits for Iowans who were laid off or forced to stay home to care for family members or children during the pandemic. While the Governor claimed that unemployment benefits kept unemployed Iowans from looking for jobs, since ending benefits the workforce shortage has remained and again nothing has been done to address the workforce crisis.

So far this session, the Governor and Republican lawmakers have unveiled a plan to permanently cut 10 weeks of unemployment benefits for struggling Iowans. House File 2279 mandates unemployed individuals wait a week before their benefits can kick in. People would no longer receive unemployment benefits for their first week of unemployment, a critical week for those who have just lost their job – benefits that not only have been earned by Iowa workers, but that truly help folks who have fallen on hard times pay their bills when they have lost their job.

Another provision in the bill mandates people on unemployment accept jobs, even if the offered wage is significantly less than the wage they were making, forcing people to take lower-paying jobs.

Majority party leaders believe this will solve the workforce shortage. However, previous cuts to unemployment programs pushed few people back to work and fueled a cut in household spending, potentially hurting local economies, according to research. Cutting earned benefits will not solve our worker shortage, it will only further hurt Iowans who have been laid off, keep wages low, and make Iowa an overall unwelcoming state.


Democrats Expand Iowans’ Access to Affordable Healthcare

Last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that 14.5 million Americans have enrolled or were automatically re-enrolled in 2022 individual market health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) between November 1, 2021 through January 15, 2022.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) lowered health care costs for most Marketplace Consumers and increased enrollment to record levels. ACA consumers saw their average monthly premium fall by 23 percent, compared to 2021. Additionally, 32 percent of consumers (3.2 million) selected a plan for $10 or less per month after President Biden and Democrats provided additional subsidies under ARP.

Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released data showing the uninsured rate falling during 2021 after ARP took effect. Per the report, the national uninsured rate fell from 10.3 percent to 8.9 percent – totaling roughly 4.6 million more with coverage during that time. Coverage gains occurred among children and working adults with incomes under 200 percent of the poverty level.

During 2020 and 2021, Iowan’s overall average ACA premiums decreased by 15 percent. CMS reported that the average benchmark premium in Iowa would be 29 percent lower in 2021 than in 2020, which is the largest reduction in the country. Additionally, ARP increased the size of premium subsidies and made accessibility more widely available. As a result, the number of Iowans enrolling in ACA comprehensive plans have doubled since 2019.

To date, the Majority Party in Iowa has not filed, nor proposed legislation that would expand Iowan’s access to comprehensive affordable healthcare in addition to the ACA.


Needed Relief and Help for Pregnant Iowa Workers

This week, the Iowa Legislature made moves to improve the lives of Iowa workers and provide relief and support to many women in the workforce. House File 2257 requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee based on their medical condition related to their pregnancy or childbirth. The worker must request the accommodation with the advice of their health care provider and would no longer have to identify a co-worker who has been given similar reasonable accommodations.

As of September 2020, 31 states including Washington D.C. have passed a law requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. The current federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) states that pregnant workers should be treated the same as those in similar situation, but places a unique burden on the pregnant or post child birth worker by requiring them to identify someone in the workplace who was given the same or similar accommodations, something this bill is trying to address.

The bill now heads to the full House of Representatives for a vote, House Democrats have long stood with working Iowans and getting them the rights, they deserve, in the workplace.


Iowa Veterans Now Have Access to Career Planning

Starting on February 8th, Iowa Veterans, active duty members, and their spouses have access to professional career-planning. This new program will be held at Camp Dodge military base on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with no appointments needed.

Veterans, active duty members, and their spouses can meet with a career planner from Home Base Iowa, and they can take advantage of the following services:

  • Tailored resume experience
  • Advice on career exploration
  • Mock interviews
  • Pathways to jobs, higher education and apprenticeships

Home Base Iowa currently partners with over 2,400 businesses in Iowa, and helps veterans and their spouses’ transition into civilian life.

For more information on career planning, please visit: homebase iowa.gov.


More Iowa News

RETHINK YOUR DRINK: FREE BOTTLE FILLING STATIONS IN SCHOOLS: Iowa schools should apply to get a water bottle filling station. The Rethink Your Drink program, which was implemented to improve the oral and overall health of students is funded by the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation. Schools can apply to have an old drinking fountain replaced with a new Elkay water bottle filling station. Applications for this program opened on January 10th and will close on March 1st. To apply, visit deltadentalia.com/foundation/grants.

APPLY NOW FOR THE 2022 CENTURY AND HERITAGE FARM PROGRAM:Applications are being accepted for the 2022 Century and Heritage Farm program. Each year, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation recognize families who have owned their farms for 100 or 150 years. Families will be honored on August 18th at the State Fair. Applications must be submitted by June 1st and are available online at: iowaagriculture.gov/century-and-heritage-farm-program.

LAST-DOLLAR SCHOLARSHIP HELPS STUDENTS: The Last-Dollar Scholarship covers tuition and qualified fees for post-secondary credentials up to two-year degrees. Recent high school graduates typically must enroll full-time in programs of study that lead to designated high-demand jobs in fields like health care and biosciences, advanced manufacturing, agriculture, and information technology. Soon, recent high school graduates in approved work-based learning programs, like Registered Apprenticeships,
will be able to attend part-time. All 15 Iowa community colleges and two private colleges participate in the Last-Dollar Scholarship program, and all 99 counties have recipients. Students are encouraged to review the list of community college programs that train for high-demand careers and to file the FAFSA early to start the eligibility process for Last-Dollar Scholarship. For more information, visit IowaCollegeAid.gov/LastDollar.

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School teachers are federal employees and run by the socialist democrat party which is socialist – commie you know.

How much extra money is available to public schools from taxpayers who send their kids to privet schools?

Their choice so they pay.

We say CUT this insane BS AND GET BACK TO BASICS – SCHOOLS are way OVERFUNDED as to the actual knowledge these kids actually learn – most IQs of graduates are WAY below average and sometimes these graduates are at 4th grade levels – yea throw more money out their Waylan and wipe your azz with some of it – same O same O political hack looking for the teachers union votes promising them more money less responsibility. BS

You are a perfect example why we need more money in education.

Just be wasted

You are the reason it is not needed.

There are a lot more of you than me.

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